Level the playing field for school sports

Level the playing field for school sports

It is time for the Ministry of Education (MOE) to relook the annual school sports competition format ("Singapore Sports School at a crossroads"; last Thursday).

For years, school teams have competed geographically.

It begins at the zonal level, where schools in the north, south, east and west zones compete among themselves before the top four go on to square off at the national level.

With the introduction of the Singapore Sports School and financial incentive programmes for schools to specialise in "niche" sports, I have observed an increasingly uneven playing field at the zonal level.

There is a huge difference in resources. How many schools can boast of having a training schedule of 18 to 20 hours per week, annual overseas competitions, sports nutritionists, as well as fitness and strength and bio-mechanic professionals?

We emphasise educating our children with values learnt via sports and competition, such as hard work and how to pick yourself up when you fall. These are values I support.

But I question the value of pitting regular schools against juggernaut teams, resulting in scores like 70-5.

The psychological impact of such huge losses cannot be underestimated.

Is MOE aware of this issue, and is it taking steps to mitigate the effects?

The ministry should consider updating the outdated zonal format to a league format. This means that a sport with 100 schools taking part may have four tiers, each featuring 25 teams competing with one another.

Top teams move up one level and less successful teams move down.

This would level the playing field.

Koh Tat Meng

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